Characterizing Kinetic Shifts in Nitrifying, Denitrifying, and Phosphorus Removing Biomass Adapting to Low DO

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Virginia Tech


Low dissolved oxygen (DO) biological nutrient removal (BNR) is becoming a viable option to improve the energy efficiency of BNR. To properly model and design BNR processes for low DO operation, it is critical to fully understand how nitrifier, denitrifier, and polyphosphate accumulating organism (PAO) oxygen kinetics adapt in a shift from traditional DO operation (2 mg O2/L or more) to low DO operation. Research characterizing how oxygen kinetics shift over time in activated sludge biomass adapting to low DO is limited. Therefore, a method to characterize oxygen kinetics for nitrifiers, denitrifiers, and PAOs simultaneously is lacking. Here a method was developed to simultaneously measure the oxygen kinetics of nitrifiers, denitrifiers, and PAOs. This method, termed the SND and P-Uptake Oxygen Kinetics test, was able to estimate the ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) oxygen half-saturation coefficient, ammonia maximum removal rate, denitrifier oxygen inhibition coefficient, total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) maximum removal rate, PAO oxygen half-saturation coefficient, phosphorus maximum uptake rate, and a simultaneous nitrification and denitrification (SND) optimum operation point. Three tests were conducted on the Virginia Initiative Plant (VIP) BNR Activated Sludge Pilot while it was operating at a process DO of 2 mg O2/L, and one test while it was operating at 1.5 mg O2/L. The measurements among the three initial tests showed high similarity in their parameter estimates. Estimated oxygen half-saturation and oxygen inhibition coefficients were compared to current suggested ranges and were within the expected magnitudes. At 2 mg O2/L, denitrifier oxygen inhibition coefficients and PAO oxygen half-saturation coefficients were estimated to be remarkably low here, under 0.4 and 0.1 mg O2/L, respectively. AOB oxygen half-saturation coefficients were variable here in the range of 0.62 to 2.57 mg O2/L, seeming to vary with available ammonia concentrations. Upon comparison with a previously developed respirometric test for nitrifier oxygen kinetics, termed the Declining DO test, the AOB oxygen half-saturation coefficient from the SND and P-Uptake Oxygen Kinetics test and the Declining DO test, when both were conducted on the VIP BNR Pilot, showed a similar trend. This provided validation for the AOB oxygen kinetics here and the usefulness of the test developed here. Additionally, measuring and plotting AOB and denitrifier oxygen kinetics together produced an intersection point where ammonia removal rates were equal to TIN removal rates. This intersection point was an optimum point for SND during the conditions of the test. This method can be used to characterize and track oxygen kinetic changes in a BNR system adapting from high to low DO.



biological phosphorus removal, simultaneous nitrification-denitrification, low DO, oxygen kinetics